When Universal Music Group was putting together the 50th anniversary Deluxe Edition of classic Elton John album Madman Across The Water, it wanted the tracklisting to include as many demos of the original songs as it could. Where could it get them from, though?
Well, it turns out that the answer lay with Peter Thomas, founder and chairman of UK speaker company PMC.
Thomas is an avid collector of Elton John’s early work, and his archive includes many rare and unusual versions of songs and albums, which he curates as part of the PMC music archives. In fact, he previously supplied a track for inclusion on a 2020 Record Store Day reissue of John’s first US album.
“After the release of earlier Elton John box sets, I contacted Universal to let them know I had in the PMC archives collection a number of never-before-released demo tracks that I had acquired from contacts at Trident Studios, where [Madman Across The Water] was recorded,” says Peter. “They were interested in including some of the tracks from my Elton John collection for future releases and took one for the 2020 Record Store Day release.
“I was delighted when they contacted me again during the compilation of this new
anniversary box set to enquire whether I could assist. Of course, I was happy to
help and was able to provide seven tracks, including the piano demo of the future hit Tiny Dancer.”
It turns out that it was Peter, a former engineer at the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, who took responsibility for creating the digital transfers from the original tapes and passing them on to Universal.
“These are not take 30 or 40, but the very first recordings made of these tracks,” says Thomas. “It’s a real treat for fans to hear them in their raw, unrefined form, before the outstanding production work by Gus Dudgeon, and Paul Buckmaster’s arrangements, turned them into the two-times Platinum album we all love.”
The Madman Across The Water Deluxe edition is available now in a variety of formats, including a 4-LP, 180g vinyl box set (this features a 40-page booklet with introductions by Elton John and Bernie Taupin) and a Super Deluxe 3-CD box set that comes with a Blu-ray and 104-page book.
You can listen to the Tiny Dancer piano demo (opens in new tab) now on a variety of streaming platforms.